Skip to main content

Heritage Crime Matters

My review article of two edited volumes has now appeared in the latest issue of Antiquity 89 (2015) 991-93 [Contents]:

DUNCAN CHAPPELL & SASKIA HUFNAGEL (ed.). Contemporary perspectives on the detection, investigation and prosecution of art crime: Australasian, European and North American perspectives (Farnham & Burlington (VT): Ashgate, 2014).

LOUISE GROVE & SUZIE THOMAS (ed.). Heritage crime: progress, prospects and prevention (Basingstoke & NewYork: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

There were a number of profitable contributions, perhaps my favourite being the essay by Dr Sam Hardy on 'Threats to cultural heritage in the Cyprus conflict'.
This essay resonates with the early 2015 debates about the looting of archaeological sites in Syria and northern Iraq during the present conflict with IS.
A second important contribution was:
In Contemporary perspectives, Duncan Chappell and Damien Huffer bring a helpful perspective on the looting of archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and the appearance of material on the Australian market. They comment on material acquired by major Australian museums from the art dealer Subhash Kapoor; some of the items have now been returned to India
Some of the papers written from a legal perspective were disappointing and, in my opinion, rather failed to engage with the reality of the issues.

Some of the comments I make in the review relating to the situation in the UK are now dated given the changes announced for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

At the end of the article I ask two key questions:
Is the academic discourse of ‘heritage crime’ failing to address such significant archaeological concerns? Is the continuing and unsustainable destruction of the archaeological record to supply the insatiable demands of the market having serious intellectual consequences for our discipline?
Can I suggest that readers of LM have a look at the books in a library before spending £135?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.